Chesterton Tribune

 

 

NiSource takes $888M hit from 2018 gas disaster

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By KEVIN NEVERS

NiSource Inc. is reporting a net loss in 2018 of $65.6 million or 18 cents per share, compared to a net income in 2017 of $128.5 million or 39 cents.

In the fourth quarter of 2018 NiSource posted a net loss of $19.8 million or 5 cents per share, compared to a net loss in the year-ago period of $52.4 million or 16 cents per share.

The annual results include $888 million in expenses--$426 million of them in the fourth quarter--associated with explosions on Sept. 13, 2018, in Greater Lawrence, Mass., connected with the over-pressurizaition of the natural-gas distribution system belonging to NiSource subsidiary Columbia Gas.

“These expenses are net of $135 million of insurance recoveries recorded during 2018,” NiSource said in a statement released today. “Current estimates for these claims and other expenses are higher than estimates provided with third-quarter results.”

“We reached a major milestone in Great Lawrence with gas service restored to nearly all customers in mid-December, and our focus on supporting our customers in these communities continues,” NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock said. “We’re in the next phase of the restoration, with commitments to restoring property and streets and continued engagement with the communities. We remain humbled by the event and we’re engaged in extensive efforts to enhance the safety and reliability of our gas distribution systems across our seven-state footprint.”

“Our resilient infrastructure investment program continues to deliver value to all stakeholders with safety enhancements for customers and communities and long-term financial growth for investors,” Hamrock added. “I would add that I am proud of the NiSource team’s continued focus, dedication, and execution through a very challenging period.”

Some 2018 highlights:

* Investing $1.8 billion in its gas and electric utilities, including the accelerated mainline replacement in Greater Lawrence, with NiSource replacing over 430 miles of natural-gas pipeline, 64 miles of underground electric circuits, and 1,300 electric poles.

* Adding approximately 27,000 net new gas customers, driven by increased conversions to natural gas from other fuels and a healthy housing market.

* Re-positioning its Indiana electric business, with submission of a long-term plan to transition away its generating fleet from coal to lower-cost renewable energy resources by 2028, saving customers an estimated $4 billion in the long term. That long-term plan includes a proposed electric rate hike of 12 percent, under which the average residential customer would see an $11 increase in their monthly electric bill. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor opposes the proposed rate hike and in fact is recommending a decrease of NIPSCO’s authorized return on equity to 9.25 percent, from the current 9.975 percent.

Operating Income 2018

* Gas distribution: operating loss of $254.1 million (operating income of $550.1 million in 2017).

* Electric: operating income of $386.1 million (operating income of $367.4 in 2017).

* Corporate and other: operating loss of $7.3 million (operating income of $3.7 million in 2017).

* Total: operating income of $124.7 million (operating income of $921.2 million in 2017).

Operating Income 4Q

* Gas distribution: operating loss of $159.7 million (operating income of $183 million in the year-ago).

* Electric: operating income of $85.7 million (operating income of $79.1 million in the year-ago).

* Corporate and other: operating loss of $4.4 million (operating income of $8.5 million in the year-ago).

* Total: operating loss of $78.4 million (operating income of $270.6 million in the year-ago).

 

Posted 2/20/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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